Tag Archives: Iraq

Affirmative action for women in Iraq

Iraqi Minister for the Environment Narmin Othman, at a women’s conference in Ramadi, 29 March 2008. Othman is one of the few women in Iraq who has reached the post of Minister. Photo by: Cpl. Erin A. Kirk

A recent Human Rights Watch report outlines ways in which women’s rights became more limited in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.  According to the report, women had a better place in politics and society during the 1970s than at present.  Similarly, an article in yesterday’s New York Times explains how the current struggle for power in the political arena has curtailed women’s rights despite a 25% quota for women in parliament.  Some people think there should be a quota for women in the ministries as well, while others feel women are not qualified or do not belong in politics.

In social psychology research, the study of attitudes about affirmative action has expanded to include gender inequality.  A survey study conducted by Boechmann and Feather (2007) examined attitudes about affirmative action for women in Australia.  For male participants, they found that unfair male advantage was negatively associated with a belief in women’s entitlement to affirmative action. However, when men’s perceptions of personal responsibility and guilt were entered into the model, unfair male advantage was positively related to women’s entitlement and deservingness.

In Iraq, efforts to secure more basic human rights for women might be advanced not just by pushing for more quotas but also by complimentary efforts to increase civic-mindedness and awareness among men.

Boeckmann, R. J. & Feather, N. T. (2007). Gender, discrimination beliefs, group-based guilt, and responses to affirmative action for Australia women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31, 290 – 304.

Iraqi women feel shunted despite election quota by Michael S. Schimdt and Yasir Ghazi, published March 12, 2011

At a crossroads: Human rights in Iraq eight years after the US-led invasion, Human Rights Watch, February 2, 2011.  See Section I. Rights of women and girls

Ouch! Is this what asylum feels like?

Iraqi_boys_giving_peace_signUday Hattem al-Ghanimi represents a growing population of Iraqis who have sought political asylum and resettled in the United States after the Bush administration invaded Iraq in 2003. However, as the New York Times reported on Thursday, like many accomplished immigrants from other countries, Uday and his family have not been met with the welcome and opportunity for which they had hoped or were led to expect. With the wounds of war still tender, Iraqis are struggling to support themselves and their families as they face alienation in the job market and ostracism from society.

A social psychological perspective of the Iraqi experience in the United States elucidates the hardships that Iraqis are facing. Williams (1997, 2007) emphasized the profound negative effects of ostracism on individuals. Five minutes of ostracism due to exclusion from a ball-tossing game resulted in decreased self-esteem and feelings of helplessness, among other negative outcomes. Such negative outcomes are exacerbated with long-term ostracism. Williams notes that the effects of ostracism are initially felt much like physical pain, possibly reflecting overlapping neural circuitry. It seems Iraqis may have traded potential pain due to warfare for certain pain due to ostracism.

square-eye The New York Times: Iraqi Immigrants Face Lonely Struggle in U.S.

square-eye Williams, K. D. (2007). Ostracism: The kiss of social death.